Acne can be an unfortunate right of passage for many teenagers, and individuals with this condition may also be more susceptible to meibomian gland damage and tear instability, a recent paper published in Clinical and Experimental Optometry suggests. The research team from Turkey hypothesized that since acne vulgaris is a disease of the sebaceous glands, it could have potential effects on the ocular surface and tear homoeostasis.

The investigation enrolled the right eyes of 70 individuals (34 patients with acne vulgaris and 36 healthy controls). Testing included tear breakup time (TBUT), Schirmer’s test, impression cytology from conjunctiva samples and meibography of the upper and lower eyelid meibomian glands.

The researchers found that TBUT was significantly lower in the study group, but the conjunctival impression cytology results were similar between both the subjects with acne and the healthy volunteers. Additionally, the investigators did not observe any grade three cytological changes in either group.

Meibomian gland loss in the upper eyelid of patients with acne vulgaris was about 19% compared with roughly 9% in the controls. Meibomian gland loss in the lower eyelid of the individuals with acne was also greater at approximately 16% compared with about 8% in the healthy participants.

In light of the study’s findings, a detailed ophthalmologic exam should be performed in patients with acne, the researchers suggested. Additionally, optometrists should remain vigilant of ocular surface pathologies when prescribing glasses or contact lenses for the visual rehabilitation of these young patients, they added.

Muhafiz E, Öztürk M, Erten M. Ocular surface characteristics in acne vulgaris. Clin Exp Optom. March 15, 2021. [Epub ahead of print].